GOODYEAR, Ariz.: Indians regulars were scheduled to play only three innings, but they made the most of their brief time on the field, as the Tribe beat the Cincinnati Reds 11-10 in the spring exhibition opener Friday at Goodyear Ballpark.
Left fielder Michael Brantley doubled twice, drove in one run and scored two. Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall hit a two-run homer, catcher Carlos Santana had two, two-run singles, and first baseman Nick Swisher delivered a run-scoring single, as the Tribe scored six times on eight hits in the first three innings.
“Especially the first day, I’m just trying to swing at quality pitches,” Brantley said.
Francona was impressed with Brantley’s approach.
“We were swinging the bats really well, with Brantley at the top of the list,” Francona said. “Any time you see a guy drive the ball the other way, his mechanics have to be in order.”
Early in the spring, pitchers usually are ahead of the hitters.
“They still are,” Brantley said. “I talked to my dad [former big-leaguer Mickey Brantley] the other night and said, ‘Pops, I feel like I’m ahead of where I usually am at this time of the spring.’ My Dad said, ‘Son, you’re getting older and you’re getting better.’ ”
Brantley looks forward to being part of the Indians’ new brigade of base stealers.
“We’re going to push the envelope,” he said. “When Tito [Francona] comes in every day, he talks about how we’re going to create runs with our speed, keep the pressure on other teams. And I love to run.”
After the regulars left, Ryan Raburn homered, and Mike McDade delivered a bases-loaded double to cap a three-run rally in the ninth to give the Tribe the win.
Pitching mixed bag
Giovanni Soto, who pitched for the Double-A Aeros, gave up five runs, three hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, but his outing was not as bad as the numbers might indicate.
A catchable fly ball fell between Drew Stubbs in right and Michael Bourn in center for a two-run single in the first.
Vinnie Pestano, Rich Hill and Frank Herrmann each threw a scoreless inning; Matt Langwell pitched two scoreless innings.
After two weeks of drills and batting practice, Francona told the team he was pleased with the way the players have performed.
“I told them I was proud of them,” Francona said. “They’ve done everything we asked them to do, and they’ve done it with a smile.”
Tickets to go on sale
Single-game tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday by calling 216-420-HITS or logging onto www.Indians.com. The season opener against the New York Yankees is almost sold out.
Fans who buy tickets in advance online and ask for the FanPass paperless option can save up to 20 percent over the price of tickets bought the day of game.
Six Indians representing four countries will pay in the World Baseball Classic, as rosters were finalized Friday.
Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano will represent Team USA; Carlos Santana will play for the Dominican Republic; Mike Aviles and Giovanni Soto will play for Puerto Rico, and Asdrubal Cabrera will be part of Venezuela’s entry.
Team USA is grouped with Canada, Italy and Mexico in the first round, which will be played at Chase Field and Salt River Field, both in Phoenix, from March 7-10.
The Tribe received its annual rules briefing from three major-league officials: Joe Torre, executive vice president of baseball operations; Joe Garagiola Jr., senior vice president of standards and on-field operations, and supervisor of umpires Steve Palermo.
“About the only new thing was the [pickoff] move from third to first that’s being eliminated,” Francona said.
With runners on first and third, pitchers can no longer fake a throw to third then whirl and throw to first.
“I’m OK with that,” Francona said. “It was very difficult for the umpires before [to determine if a balk had been committed].”
The Indians will be the visiting team at Goodyear Ballpark today, as they meet the Reds for the second consecutive time. Brett Myers will start for the Tribe against Alfredo Simon. Chris Perez, Corey Kluber, Matt Albers, Scott Barnes and Bryan Shaw also are scheduled to pitch for the Indians.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.